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Holocaust Remembrance Day 2024 – Yom HaShoah

Holocaust Remembrance Day 2024 calls us to reflect deeply on the echoes of the past and the reverberations they cause in our present world. This year, the day takes on a poignant significance, juxtaposed against the October 7th attack, the largest on Jewish lives since World War II.

This convergence of historical and recent events prompts us to question: How does remembering the atrocities of the Holocaust impact our understanding of new horrors? As we honor the memory of those lost and reflect on human cruelty, we must also consider our responsibilities today in the face of ongoing hatred and violence.

This image features a vivid purple flower, symbolizing remembrance, prominently displayed against a soft, dark background with light rays. The text "2024 HOLOCAUST REMEMBRANCE DAY" appears at the top in elegant, white font. Below the flower, additional text credits Dr. Bea Hollander-Goldfein, LMFT, CCTP from the Council for Relationships. The overall mood is somber and reflective, appropriate for the commemoration of Holocaust Remembrance Day.Holocaust Remembrance Day 2024 in Context of October 7th

It has been 79 years since the end of WWII.

The term Holocaust has appeared in the daily press more frequently since the Hamas attack on Israel on October 7, 2023, than at any other time since the end of WWII. Why is this striking? Because of the reality that the largest attack on Jews since the end of the Holocaust took place on October 7 (a fact that is often repeated by media when covering the Israel-Hamas War).

What do we do with this fact? How do we feel? How does it affect our consciousness?

It has been believed that the memorialization of the Holocaust through an international day of observance established by the United Nations, through museums, memorial events, and Holocaust survivor testimonies, and through the educational curricula in schools and universities would sensitize humanity to the reality of humanity’s cruelty to others.

The phrase “never again” captures this sentiment. But have we learned? What have we learned? There have been a number of genocidal wars since the end of WWII. Many countries around the world have dictatorial regimes and oppressed groups within their populations.

So what does it mean to commemorate Holocaust Remembrance Day in 2024?

We owe it to the 6 million people destroyed by the Nazi goal to exterminate the Jews not only to mark their deaths but also to remember their lives and their stories. We acknowledge this overwhelming tragedy and bear witness to human cruelty that causes enormous human suffering.

Going to Holocaust museums can cause deep feelings of sadness, despair, and empathy for those who suffered. Alongside the sense of disbelief and an out-of-body experience that feels surreal, hopefully, comes a personal commitment to never let this happen again.

Yom HaShoah

This Yom HaShoah, on May 6, 2024, should be a wake-up call. We need to do more than bear witness and feel sad. This year, of all years, we should make a personal commitment to take a stand against hatred in all forms.

Look around you. You do not even have to go global. We need to examine our own communities, workspaces, and rhetoric within our own country.

Do we believe in democracy? Do we believe in equality? Do we believe in the value of every human being?

Well, if you do, then take a stand against those around you who espouse hatred, blanket condemnation of one group over another, and the determination of who is acceptable and who is not. Take a stand against tyranny in whatever form you see it. We need to respond against all the “isms” that arise in a time of social unrest or social confusion.

In addition to working towards the end of racism and bigotry, we must speak out against the significant rise of antisemitism in the United States. Who stands with me?

I share with you the statement by German Lutheran pastor Martin Neimoller – an opponent of the Nazi Regime:

First, they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out—because I was not a socialist.
Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out—because I was not a trade unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.

From Holocaust Remembrance Day 2024 to the Transcending Trauma Project

Since its establishment in 1991, the Transcending Trauma Project (TTP) has delved deeply into the complexities of human resilience and anguish, examining the lives of Holocaust survivors and their families. This Council for Relationships project has amassed over 1,200 hours of interviews with 97 survivors, capturing the narratives of their lives and those of their children and grandchildren. These archives are now preserved at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum.

TTP’s unique approach to examining the intricate pre-war, wartime, and post-war family dynamics offers insights into the mechanisms of coping and adaptation.

The research on how people deal with and adapt to severe trauma, like the TTP studies, is important for other groups who have also experienced extreme trauma, whether it happened during attempts to wipe them out, wars, battles, or violence against them personally.

So far, the project has produced two books and many articles that show how trauma affects families over generations, impacting how families connect and how strong individuals can be. These insights are crucial for therapists and practitioners seeking effective ways to support traumatized individuals, emphasizing the importance of understanding family interactions in the healing process.

Through collaboration with experts from various institutions in Philadelphia, TTP enhances our comprehension of trauma’s extensive reach and the pathways to recovery. It serves to guide our efforts to mitigate the impacts of past atrocities on future generations and underscores the pivotal role of empathy and detailed study in fostering thriving relationships and flourishing communities.

Portrait of author of the blog "Holocaust Remembrance Day 2024 - Yom HaShoah" Dr. Bea Hollander-Goldfein

Dr. Bea Hollander-Goldfein, Director of the Transcending Trauma Project

About the Author

Bea Hollander-Goldfein, PhD, LMFT, CCTP, Director of Transcending Trauma Project at Council for Relationships. She is a licensed psychologist and Marriage and Family Therapist (MFT) and an instructor and supervisor in CFR’s AAMFT-accredited Postgraduate Program in MFT. Dr. Hollander-Goldfein has a broad-based clinical practice with expertise in trauma treatment.

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